You will experience unforgettable moments by exploring the natural wonders of ancient Burma. You will travel by boat along Inle Lake and hike through the forests of Kengtung to meet remote tribes in the mountains. You will admire the old stupas of Bagan by bicycle riding, and visit a temple perched on top of an extinct volcano, before concluding the journey to the city center of Rangoon.
Rangoon – Inle Lake – Heho – Ketung – Mandalay – Amarapura – Bagan – Mount Popa
This afternoon, you will begin your journey by an excursion in the lively streets of Rangoon, lined with old colonial buildings, witnesses of times gone by. You will walk in the old harbor district with its busy merchants. In the evening you will enjoy the spectacular illumination of Shwedagon Pagoda, the most important Buddhist site in the country, which is said to contain Buddha hair strands with other relics. Its arrow, which rises to 110 meters, is encrusted with diamonds and covered with a gold plate.
You will fly to Heho, the gateway to Inle Lake, and take the road for about an hour before reaching it. You will board a small boat to cross it, watching the boatmen rowing with one leg, in an impressive way! You will pass through many floating gardens filled with fruits and vegetables and also keep an eye on the many species of birds that breed there or stop there on their migratory routes.
This morning, cruise to Indian, a village on a shore away from the lake, to discover its 16th century stupas both mysterious and frightening. You will visit this place where craftsmen work according to techniques transmitted for several generations. You will observe how the Burmese cigars are rolled by hand, how dried flower powder is pressed to make Buddhist images, or even the construction of boats from local materials.
Return to Heho to fly to Kengtung, a large city to the east of Shan State, where you will take a guided walk. It is the ideal place to visit tribes and ethnic minorities and have a glimpse of their way of life. You will travel to Lake Nyaung Tong, then to meet the Palaung people. His wives wear clothes with accessories that will not leave you indifferent, including belts made of silver and red fabric.
Get ready for a day of hiking to explore the surrounding countryside on the way to Pin Tauk. You will pass through the tribal villages of Anh and then those of the Akha, living in the mountainous heights, whose women also notice themselves. They wear amazing hairstyles, in fact, ornamented with silver, coins, and embroidery. Life is very simple, and families derive their income from farming and plowing. You stop for lunch with a picnic near a waterfall, and dip your toes in its adjacent pools. Then, you will taste a homemade rice alcohol, which is a cure for all the bobos, perfect for sore feet in particular!
Enjoy a smooth start to the day, or go for a walk in the morning market, which is always a hive of activity. You will be driven to the airport, then, to fly to Mandalay. It is the last royal capital of the country, established in the shade of the eponymous hill, and its central point is the reconstructed palace, surrounded by a large moat. It is a hub for small old towns that have played an important role in the history and formation of the landscapes of the region.
First you will make a short drive to Amarapura, another ancient capital, also an academic center since 1783. The city was ravaged by fire and an earthquake and then rebuilt several times. Its monastery is still today an active center for teaching hundreds of young monks who have chosen to live there. You will take a stroll that will allow you to rub shoulders with the inhabitants of Amarapura, and cross the giant bridge U-Bein.
It seems that it is the longest planet in teak wood! Returning to Mandalay, you will visit the Mahamuni Pagoda with its statues created to represent Buddha as it is. Then you will see the world’s largest book in the Kuthodaw Pagoda, where stories have been engraved on 729 marble plaques. You will end the day with the discovery of a gold leaf artisan workshop before going to admire the sunset from the heights of the Mandalay hill.
You will drive for approximately four hours to reach the town of Monywa. On the way, you will stop in Sagaing, an old capital of more, with many stupas and monasteries scattered in the surrounding hills. The main religious site offers spectacular views of the Irrawaddy River. Continue the excursion to Monywa, where the Thanboddhay pagoda, dating back to the 14th century, shows thousands of Buddhist images adorning both inside and outside walls. Then you will head towards Bodditatuang, extraordinary with its hundreds of Buddhas sitting in the shade of banian fig trees. Later in the afternoon, you will observe craftsmen weaving cotton blankets or make lacquerware. At nightfall, you will again watch the sunset at the top of a pagoda this time.
You will board a boat to cross the Chindwin River in order to reach the Pow Win Taung cave-temple. Admire its impressive 17th century paintings that decorate the walls and Buddhist statues, sitting on shelves carved in the rock. Going a little further, you will find at Shwe Ba Taung other temples dug in narrow cliffs. Then you will sail along the Irrawaddy River and arrive in Bagan later in the afternoon.
You will ride a bike to walk around the hundreds of temples that make up the landscape of Bagan. More than 10000 religious buildings were erected during the 250 years that the city was at the heart of the former Pagan Empire. Today, just over 2200 temples and pagodas have survived, in a surprisingly satisfactory state! You will pedal at your own pace as the roads are quite flat, making the walk easy and enjoyable.
This morning you will be taken to Mount Popa, a temple perched on top of an extinct volcano. You will climb the 777 steps to reach its monastery dedicated to the 37 ancient “nats” (spirits). Many myths and folk tales surround this place which, in clear weather, allows you to admire the plains of Bagan. Later in the afternoon, you will fly to Rangoon.
As your adventures in Myanmar come to an end, you will be taken to the airport for your next flight.